The Crazy Kitchen: July 2016

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Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae Strawberry Cheesecake Pimms Pavlova Ciabatta Ice Cream Cupcakes Raspberry Tarts

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels (a bread maker recipe)

The smell of cinnamon bagels takes me back to our time living in the US, so whenever I buy them I take in that smell and reminisce. The kids love cinnamon bagels so I usually buy them every week, but it's one thing that I've never made myself.

After receiving a Russell Hobbs compact bread maker to trial I decided to give them a bash, and let the machine take the hard work out of dough making. For these bagels I used a 1kg basic bread recipe from the booklet included with the machine, with some small amendments.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels - makes 16

200g water
200g milk
30g melted butter
10g salt
30g caster sugar
600g strong white bread flour
5g cinnamon
7g easy bake yeast
150g raisins (or sultanas)

water bath
large pan half filled with water
40g sugar
1 egg white

  • add all of the ingredients, apart from the raisins, to the pan of the bread maker in the order listed above
  • set the machine to the 'dough' program, adding the raisins after 22 minutes (on the basic bread setting the machine beeps after this time for any additions)
  • leave the machine until the end of the cycle before removing the dough
  • on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 16 equal(ish) pieces
  • roll each piece of dough into a flattened ball & make a hole in the centre with your fingers
  • lay the bagels onto baking sheets lined with baking paper, spaced well apart
  • leave to rise for 10 minutes
  • add the sugar to the pan of water & bring to the boil
  • drop 2 or 3 bagels into the water bath for approx 30 seconds each side
  • remove with a slotted spoon and place onto the baking sheets
  • brush the bagels with egg white before baking in a preheated 220C oven for approx 20 -25 minutes, until golden brown
home made bagels are crispy on the outside and lovely and soft and chewy in the centre. Serve sliced in half and spread with butter, or they can be halved and toasted

Cinnamon Raisin BagelsCinnamon Raisin Bagels Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

The Russell Hobbs 23620 compact black bread maker is a very reasonably priced bread maker at £59.99, but it's not short on features. There are all the usual bread, dough and cake programs, along with a program for jam and compote (which I'm yet to try), a 55 minute fast bake and one for gluten free bread. The booklet includes recipes suitable for all the programs, along with 8 recipes for various flavoured gluten free bread. I'm trying out a gluten free poppyseed loaf today so follow me on Instagram to see how that turns out, and to take a look at my previous loaves here, here and here.

Russell Hobbs Bread Maker

I was sent the Russell Hobbs bread maker for this review

How to make traditional fish and chips at home

Nothing says British summer like a serving of traditional fish and chips finished with mushy peas and a wedge of fresh lemon. It’s a wholesome, hearty meal that has become a true British staple, but it’s one that so many of us only trust the local takeaway to get right.

Making the perfect battered fish at home takes a little practise, but the results are well worth it. Do it right and it becomes a sure fire way to get the whole family around the dinner table on a Friday night. 

Choosing the right fish is half the battle and ensuring that each fillet is smooth and scale-free before buying will save you a lot of time in the long run. Opt for smaller fillets if you’re after a really crispy batter – cod and haddock work well and are sure to help you replicate that classic chip shop flavour. You could also try skate, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous. 

It’s always best to do a final check for pin bones at this stage, as well as to pat the fillet dry with some kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture. Your fishmonger should be able to help with trimming off any excess and ensuring that the fish is ready to cook.

Making the batter

You will need:

150g plain flour
50g cornflour
150ml pale ale
150ml Budweiser lager
Salt and pepper to season

Once you’ve chosen your fish, the next step is to prepare the batter. This part is surprisingly easy and simply requires you to whisk the dry and wet ingredients together before lightly seasoning to taste. The batter should be smooth in texture and thick enough to fully cover the fish.

Dust each fish fillet with flour and coat in the batter before lowering into a deep fat fryer that has been pre-heated to 140°C. Cooking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of the fillets, but usually around 5 minutes does the trick. The batter should be golden brown and the fish will float to the top of the fryer once ready.

All that’s left is to remove the fish and drain off any excess oil. I tend to do this by laying the fillets on a sheet of kitchen paper while I plate up the rest of the meal. 

While the fish itself can take a little bit of work, it’s good to know that there are cheats available for the rest of the dish. Frozen chips can be popped in the oven before you start preparing the batter and should be ready to serve at around the same time as the fish. McCain chips are perfect for this and taste just as good as fried.

For the mushy peas, you can either buy them readymade or boil your regular garden peas and mash together with a small nob of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a fresh sprig of mint for a more traditional spin on this hearty classic.

Finish with a wedge of lemon and voila – traditional fish and chips from the comfort of your own kitchen. 

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Monday, 18 July 2016

Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce

This is a lovely family dish that's easy to prepare, and great for midweek meals. It's full of veggies and tender chicken breast. You could use boneless chicken thighs instead, which makes it even tastier, but just increase the cooking time a little.

Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce

Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce - serves 4/5

1 tbsp olive oil
4 skinless & boneless chicken breasts, halved
5 tbsp barbecue sauce (I used Heinz Classic barbecue sauce)
1 large onion, sliced
3 peppers (red, green & orange), sliced
1 courgette, sliced
beef stock cube
200ml boiling water
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • heat the oil in a large lidded frying pan or skillet 
  • add 1 tbsp of the barbecue sauce
  • add the chicken breasts and fry for a few minutes each side until browned and the sauce starts to caramelise
  • remove the chicken from the pan and set aside
  • add the onion, peppers & courgette to the pan and fry for a few minutes until starting to soften
  • dissolve the stock cube in the water and stir in the tomatoes and remaining barbecue sauce
  • pour the sauce into the pan and stir to combine the vegetables
  • bring to a simmer, place the lid on and simmer gently for 20 minutes
  • add the chicken back in and simmer for an additional 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through
  • serve with rice
Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Music in the Forest #ForestLive #WeLoveForests

On Sunday evening I had tickets to see Kaiser Chiefs at Cannock Chase, as part of the Forestry Commision Forest Live events held throughout the Summer (this is Summer incase you've forgotten) at seven forest locations throughout the country.

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This was to be my third time at a concert in Cannock Chase, with the first being Paul Weller in 2009 and then Jessie J in 2014. They are always a great night, with plenty of atmosphere.

The plan was for myself and the husband to enjoy a very rare night out together, however the night clashed with the Euro 16 final and we lost our babysitter to football & pizza with his mates. In the end I took 7 year old Jack, as he was desperate to go, and his teen sister preferred to stay at home to watch Love Island!

The beauty of going to a concert in the forest is being able to take your own picnic and drinks (in plastic bottles) as well as picnic blankets and chairs. When we got there just after 6pm it was already quite busy, but we set up camp on the hill in the sunshine with a good view of the stage.

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The Kaiser Chiefs were supported by two bands, Vitamin and Spring Kings, before the main act coming on at 9pm.

It was a great show, but as Jack had school in the morning we left just after 10pm, missing, from all accounts, an amazing end to the weekend of concerts in The Chase, as can be seen by this amazing photo!

We can't wait to go back again next year, and look forward to seeing who's playing. If you can get to one of the 7 forests next Summer you are definitely sure of a great family night out! (kids under 5 get in free). 

I received tickets for Kaiser Chiefs in exchange for writing this post. 
All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Raspberry & White Chocolate Tarts

Last weekend saw a brief break in the rain long enough to get up to allotment to do some weeding, and whilst up there Jack picked a few raspberries. Some of them were quite ripe, and after a quick wash they were a little on the mushy side. We could've eaten them with vanilla ice cream but as I had a pack of puff pastry nearing it's use by date I thought tarts would make a nice dessert.

Raspberry & White Chocolate Tarts
Making these couldn't be simpler, as they require zero cooking skills or effort, although if you want to refine your baking skills and learn some new tricks of the trade, corporate cooking classes could work for you.

Raspberry & White Chocolate Tarts

Raspberry & White Chocolate Tarts - makes 8

320g pack of ready rolled puff pastry
2 tbsp milk
approx 200g ripe raspberries
1 tbsp caster sugar
75g good quality white chocolate

  • slice the pastry sheet into 8 equal pieces
  • lay the pastry onto a large baking tray (or 2 smaller ones) lined with baking paper
  • brush the pastry sheets with milk
  • gently mash the raspberries with the back of a fork
  • spoon the raspberries into the centre of each pastry sheet and spread over the sheet, leaving approx 2cm around the edge
  • sprinkle the sugar over each sheet, including around the edge
  • bake in a 200C oven for approx 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffed up
  • allow to cool before drizzling with melted white chocolate

Raspberry & White Chocolate Tarts Raspberry & White Chocolate Tarts Raspberry & White Chocolate Tarts

Eating Well, Even With Food Allergies

Food allergies, such as gluten or dairy intolerance, can place some hefty restrictions on your diet. If you or any other member of your family is dealing with this, it’s likely a challenge to find food that everybody enjoys and can eat. It isn’t impossible though, and it can actually be a great opportunity to examine your family’s diet, make improvements, and do a clean eating overhaul. Even if most of your family is free from allergy, you can cut out harmful additives and GMOs by doing a food makeover. With the right information and attitude, it isn’t too hard. Food allergies might seem like a restriction, but you can view them as an invitation to better eating. Thankfully, there is a wealth of information available on the web that makes cutting out gluten and dairy easier than ever. These pointers can help you stay on track, stay healthy, and start your healthy eating endeavour right.

Double Check Your Plate
One of the greatest detriments to healthy eating is misinformation. Many people mistakenly assume that certain foods are good for them, despite a nutrition label that may indicate otherwise. In order to get the most out of your meals, double check your plate. First, check to ensure that it doesn’t contain any allergens that will harm you, and secondly, make sure that it is, in fact, as nutritious as you think it is. You deserve to know what’s in your food, so don’t shy away from researching its ingredients. Even foods that are marketed as healthy can have hidden dangers.

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Get Creative

Perhaps the best way to combat a seemingly restrictive diet is to get creative with your food choices. There’s no limit to what you can discover in your kitchen, and clean eating startup hamptoncreek knows that better than anybody. In formulating their line of food, they found materials such as pea protein to replace traditional and more irritating ingredients. Alhough you probably don’t have a high-tech science lab in your kitchen, you can experiment and try new things. You might be surprised what kind of results you get when you start improvising your daily cuisine.

Quality Over Convenience

Food allergies can put you in a tough spot. When the family needs easy snacks, and you don’t have time to keep homemade ones on hand, you’ll likely end up scouring the grocery store for food that is simple, clean, and high quality. You might not think this task is difficult, but anybody who’s undertaken it knows that it is. Hampton Creek identified this void in the market and launched its Just line of foods. With a selection of gluten and egg free products, they make it easy to swap bad snacks for good ones. Quality is more important than convenience.

Find Products You Trust

Studies suggest that most people don’t trust the companies that manufacture their food. With the revelation of harmful additives and GMOs being nearly ubiquitous, it’s no wonder consumers might question its source. The good news is that several companies have taken the cue and built enterprises based on principles of transparency, simple ingredients and clean eating. This is great for families who must accommodate food allergies, because labels are easier to decipher and potential allergens are easier to spot. Do your research and find products that fit your needs, work with your diet, and above all else, deserve your trust.

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Take Control of Your Food
When it comes to food and food sources, unless you have a farm, you can’t control the way it is produced and processed. You can, however, support the companies that make living with food allergies easier. You have control of your plate, and what you choose to put on it says a lot about your values. As more families cut out all of the allergens and GMOs that permeate food, it sends a clear message to companies. You don’t have to deal with food allergies to know that eating clean and choosing quality foods is better for your family. As you take control of your food, you can join the countless other families who have made the same choice and never looked back. You deserve food that is honest and simple, and seeking it out is a service to your health. Whether you have allergies or not, a little effort goes a long way in making better meals, improving your lifestyle, and forging meaningful changes.

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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Seriously Good Strawberry & Lemon Cheesecake Spoonfuls

Do you ever fancy dessert but know that if you bake a pie or cake you're going to end up eating it all? Or you want to make a dessert for a dinner party but your cheesecake serving skills aren't up to scratch, and you end up slopping it onto the plate upside down. I can relate to both of these, which is why I like making individual desserts in jars or glasses, such as these quick and easy family dessertslemon prosecco syllabubs or these shot glass trifles.

When I heard about the Heinz [Seriously] Good Spoonfuls competition it gave me the idea to create an individual serving of cheesecake on a spoon. The only catch is that the recipe would need to contain the new mayonnaise from Heinz, their [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise, made from free range eggs and containing no added colours, flavours, preservatives or artificial thickeners.

Not sold on the idea of mayonnaise in a cheesecake? Well, feast your eyes on these little beauties. A perfect mouthful, and nobody would guess the secret ingredient. Using mayonnaise in biscuits is a great shortcut as there's no need to wait for your butter to soften, and it mixes easily with your other ingredients.

Seriously Good Strawberry & Lemon Dessert Spoon Cheesecakes

Seriously Good Strawberry & Lemon Cheesecake Spoonfuls - makes 4

biscuit base
1 tbsp Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise
1 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of lemon zest
2 tbsp plain flour
4 dessert spoons

  • add the ingredients to a small bowl
  • mix together to form a ball of dough
  • divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll into balls
  • place the balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper
  • press the balls with your fingertips to form a disc approx 4-5cm in diameter 
  • bake in a preheated 180C oven for 10 minutes, until lightly browned
  • whilst still warm and soft, press each biscuit onto your dessert spoons
  • leave to cool

cheesecake topping
3 tbsp full fat cream cheese
1 tsp Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of lemon zest
sliced strawberries for decoration

  • in a small bowl, whisk the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice and zest together in a bowl, until thick
  • spoon or pipe onto the biscuit bases and top with a slice of strawberry

They really are [seriously] good!

Seriously Good Strawberry & Lemon Dessert Spoon Cheesecakes Seriously Good Strawberry & Lemon Dessert Spoon Cheesecakes Seriously Good Strawberry & Lemon Dessert Spoon Cheesecakes Seriously Good Strawberry & Lemon Dessert Spoon Cheesecakes

If you think you have what it takes to create a [seriously] good spoonful, either sweet or savoury, you could be in with a chance of winning a fab prize!

More details and Terms and Conditions of the competition can be found here. Check out other entries by following the hashtag #heinzseriouslygood .

Seriously Good Strawberry & Lemon Dessert Spoon Cheesecakes

this post has been commissioned by Heinz

5 Ways to Bring Colour into Your Home with Glass

They say that a change is as good as a rest, and if this British 'summer' is making you feel a little restless then it may be time to spruce your home up a little and go for a bit of a change.

The problem can often be knowing where to start. If you have absolutely no idea what colour scheme or style to go for then magazines and websites are a good place to start. Pinterest is often my first point of call for inspiration but it's good to have an idea of what you're looking for otherwise you may become overwhelmed by the shear volume of ideas on there, and before you know it you've lost two days to 'DIY furniture hacks' or '49 clever storage solutions'.

An obvious solution to add colour to your home would be to paint the walls. A less obvious, more hardwearing, solution would be to use glass. Yes, glass.

Glass can be used in a number of ways; 5 of which I've looked at here.

Splash Backs
Glass splash backs are a simple way to add colour to your walls, as well as protecting them from water, cooking splashes and heat. They can be made to measure in a range of standard colours and designs, as well as your own custom designs. They're suitable to use in both kitchens and bathrooms, around sinks hobs, baths and showers.

Toughened glass is so durable, that it makes a great solution for kitchen worktops. It's heat resistant, which means you can put your pots straight onto it, without fear of damaging it. Best of all it can be created to your own specifications to fit a particular area, as well as co-ordinating with the rest of your kitchen. You could even add a bit of sparkle.

Stained Glass
Stained glass can add the wow factor to any home, whether it be a period home or state of the art. It can be used to create privacy in a bathroom window or front door, as well as making a feature of a room, and adding colour.

Wall Art
When you think of wall art you would probably think of a large canvas or print, but what if you could have your image printed directly onto toughened glass, in a size to suit your needs. Glass wall art can retain vibrant colours, as well as being easier to clean that a conventional piece of wall art.

Glass Chopping Boards
Hygienic and heat resistant glass boards come in a variety of colours, and are a perfect way to brighten up the dullest of kitchens, or complement the existing decor, at the same time as protecting your work surfaces.

Creoglass Design offers a large choice of coloured glass splashbacks, as well as worktops, wall art, glass chopping boards and colour matching sockets and switches, with free delivery over £100.

This video shows a day in the life of the Creoglass team:

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